How do you force yourself to 'just do it'?

marie26July 13, 2005

If I enjoy doing something, I have no problem doing it. But if it's something that I don't want to tackle, I am the biggest procrastinator.

So, how do you make yourself work on something you really would rather not do but needs to get done?

Is it as simple as saying that for 2 hours or whatever amount of time each day you are not allowed on the computer, etc. until it's done? If I give myself a short amount of time to do something (15-30 minutes) and then get a reward, I never seem to go back to the task at hand.

But I find it really hard to start a project, especially since I know it might take a couple of weeks to complete.

Any suggestions for me would be greatly appreciated.

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Marie, I need this help too! I haven't been around here much, mostly because I'm definitely stalled. I am REALLY feeling guilty too because right now (like this minute/day/week/month) is my golden time to get things done. It's summer, my work schedule is super light, my kids aren't in school but are old enough not to need much supervision - right now in fact one is out of town midway through a 3-week visit to friends, and the other is working FT so gone all day (can you say perfect time to muck out rooms?!?!).

I have quite a few projects I swore I would tackle and for the life of me I cannot get motivated to do them! C'mon, Talley Sue, I know you can send us some motivating thoughts :).


    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 12:51PM
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well, one idea: don't REQUIRE yourself to go back to the yucky project after the reward. People talk about "baby steps" a lot--15 minutes is a baby step.

The next baby step should have its own reward.

Another idea: find a way to MAKE it enjoyable--crank up the Ramones, or Willie Nile, or somebody rowdy. Put on your favorite comfy clothes. Invite a friend over to watch you do it and keep you company in the meanwhile (even if you have to promise not to make them work at it).

Another thing I've found is that first thing in the morning, I can do all the chore stuff very efficiently, without hating it so much. Of course, since I'm working, there isn't that much morning time.

Another really productive time for me: immediately after supper. Of course, DH wants to sit and enjoy "the illusion of leisure"; I crab at home sometimes because *I* want to enjoy the "illusion of productivity!"

One more idea: pick a stopping PLACE, not a stopping TIME

    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 1:46PM
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Excellent suggestions above:

First -- really evaluate the project -- and break it down into steps -- on paper. Sometimes the simple act of writing down the steps -- and creating a To Do List -- and a Shopping list for the project can really help! Think about the logical way to tackle the project and "get it done"!

Second -- Baby Steps. Yes. Get a kitchen timer a set it for 15 minutes -- and put on your favorite music. Work. Do Not Pass Go. When it rings -- leave or do it again.

Third -- Set a Date and Goal. Have a Party. Have Visitors. Pick a date and occasion -- and get started!!! No matter what state the room or house is in ----- those folks are coming -- so get your act together!!!

At some stages of a project -- having a friend or two to help might grease the wheels of a stuck project. At other times -- just do it!!!


a) There is always something that needs doing.

b) Mistakes are our best friends -- and teach us more about how to do stuff.

c) ITS JUST PAINT. Really! Honestly! Truly!

d) ITS JUST STUFF. Get rid of stuff that is clinging and choking you -- make your space work and live FOR you not AGAINST you!!!!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 6:55PM
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If you reward yourself for spending a certain amount of TIME, you learn to get things done very slowly.

If you reward yourself for measurable progress - such as "one closet decluttered" or "kitchen floor scrubbed" - you tend to get things done faster.

I reward myself with reading - finish a task, read a chapter.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 11:39PM
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Talley Sue, your idea of "pick a stopping PLACE, not a stopping TIME" struck me as something I think I might be able to follow.

It makes sense because I can look back and say I finished something even if it was only 1 bin. I am not good with time issues. Family members like to say I'm never on time. It's usually just by minutes, though. And even when I give myself time limits to clean in the house, I always seem to underestimate how much time is needed per task. But if I can start forcing myself to think in terms of finishing each task instead of beating the clock, I will be doing myself a favor.

I'll keep you posted.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 12:24AM
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The babysteps concept is so important. I set a goal for something that will absolutely get done each day (no excuses) and I try to accomplish that task before I do anything else.

Example - I've needed to clean out cabinets and declutter my kitchen. I tackle one or two drawers each day and it's not so overwhelming. Last weekend I cleaned out the drawers in the kitchen desk on Saturday and cleaned the fridge on Sunday (we're talking empty it out and scrub down the shelves and drawers). Seeing my fridge all neat and clean and those drawers organized gives me HUGE motivation to make EVERYTHING neat and tidy! Last night I cleaned out the freezer and this weekend I'll tackle the drawers in the island.

Another thing that has helped me is helping my parents clean out their house (see packrat parents post). DH laughs and says every time we get home from their house I throw more stuff away from OUR house! It really is a motivator and makes me realize we don't need so much STUFF!

Give yourself a pep talk and good luck with your projects!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 11:32AM
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I just had a lightbulb moment today regarding motivation. I agree with the suggestions about babysteps but go one further. Have as the first babystep "just to straighten up the pile". I tend to get hotspots (as flylady calls them) that are kinda depressing as I pass by them trying to figure out where I'm going to put stuff that I actually want to keep. Well... what I tell myself is that I can just keep it back where it is now but make it look a lot neater.If it is a stack of books, put larger books on bottom and smaller on top, line up the edges know the gets my juices going and I always end up doing a little more than just straightening. I guess it helps that I actually enjoy doing the "straightening". If that isn't your thing, try to find a first babystep that you actually kinda enjoy as far as cleaning/decluttering/work tasks go and maybe it will help energize you to continue further.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 2:37AM
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Lately I've found that I'm having a hard time getting motivated. The house is a wreck. DH was working on a special software project for his boss, apart from his regular job responsibilies, as he doesn't generally do software development now. We thought it would be fairly small & short, but of course it mushroomed. He ended up having to work on it at night & on weekends for several months. Thankfully, it's almost done. I've been having to do my usual things around the house as well as the stuff he usually does to help out.

Then, three weeks ago, I was in a car accident. I sprained my ankle - the same ankle I severely sprained last year. I'm finally able to use it pretty much normally, but it's still bruised. You can imagine what's happened to this house with me unable to do much. DH has helped out despite still working on his project, but....

Today, I'm going to try to tackle some of the hot spots around here. My motivation is keeping in mind that the end result is actually a wonderful reward in itself. It will make me feel so much better when I walk into the bedroom & my dresser isn't a mess, I might smile instead of frowning & thinking that I've got to do something about the mess.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 9:14AM
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I got my nightstand & dresser cleaned off yesterday. They had both become dumping areas in the past couple of weeks. I feel so much better when I walk in the room! Today I need to put away the box of stuff that belongs elsewhere that's sitting in the corner of the room.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 3:59PM
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I got my nightstand & dresser cleaned off yesterday. They had both become dumping areas in the past couple of weeks.

These are hot spots for me, too--but they're dumping areas for the past couple of DECADES!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 7:11PM
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I think sometimes a task can just seem too overwhelming. My sons used to be this way when they were little, and still are to some extent as I am, too!

Looking at the big picture you think, OMG, there's just no way I'm ever going to be able to get this done!

So, I've found the best thing to do is quit thinking of the entire task, and break it up into reasonable small tasks. Instead of thinking of cleaning the whole room, I think of it in chunks. Today, I'll begin working on the desk and work on it a few minutes every day till it's done. Then I'll move onto the table, etc. Or today I'll begin with the left side of the closet and just move on a little bit at a time every day.

I'm still pretty good at procrastinating but sometimes the motivation comes from how I benefit once the chore is done.

For example, I wanted to be able to have a permanent exercise area in an extra bedroom. That bedroom was so full of junk, both in the room and the closet that you could hardly walk in! But I had an extra tv, sitting around not getting used and the excerise tape and everything I needed except space!

I finally talked myself into cleaning up, and it ended up taking me about 3 weeks of working 15 minutes here and 25 minutes there, etc. I'm so glad it's done! If I'd had to do it all in one day, it would have killed me and I probably still would not have set aside that whole day to get it done.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 2:36PM
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have I mentioned "Do a Dozen" yet?

There are chores I know I need to do; I haven't forgotten them, I'm thinking of them and then decide they're just too overwhelming.

Like folding the 5 loads of laundry DH did.

So, I tell myself I only need to "do a dozen"--fold 12 things. Put away 12 things off the dresser.

I get to define what a "thing" is--maybe it's all 7 pencils that count as one "thing." Or, if I'm feeling really overwhelmed or short on time, every single pencil counts as one, and I quit early.

Usually I decide that socks don't count (though I do take them out and put them in their sorted piles, I just don't count them), and so 12 would have been 27 if I'd added in all the socks. Or I decide that anything I'm going to throw away off the dresser doesn't count, and only things being relocated count--speeds that up fast, too.

Sometimes I realize I've accidentally gone over--oops, did 18, my bad!

Sometimes I'll say, "gee that went fast, I'll do ANOTHER dozen."

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 6:03PM
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"Or, if I'm feeling really overwhelmed or short on time, every single pencil counts as one, and I quit early. "

talleysue, I love how your mind works, lol....

I have to pay bills this morning; at least a dozen......

    Bookmark   August 2, 2005 at 5:37AM
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mitchdesj, one thing about defining each scrap of paper as "one thing," at least I DO a dozen--I feel better for having actually DONE something, less discouraged (and therefore more likely to actually do something AGAIN the next day).

It's a major motivator.

Plus, 12 pieces of paper, or 12 pencils, are gone--better than nothing, right?

I have a dozen bills to pay tonight, too. I'll think of you when I want to put it off--bcs you'll have already done it, so I'll have to stick to it.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2005 at 11:26AM
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I think I have read every organizing self-help book there is. I quit my job July 29. I took the entire month of August to relax, de-compress and de-stress. My mind is made up. I will start organizing my house Sunday August 28. I will post my progress here. Just do it.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 9:42PM
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That's why my "name" is Plow_In. I stuck signs all over the house, saying plow in, plow in, plow in. It really did work, but I took them down since they looked kind of messy.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 9:59PM
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My granddaughter will be visiting us next week so I was forced to finally clean out the one room I hadn't tackled since we moved here 7 months ago. She will be sleeping in this room. It took me about 4 1/2 hours which included organizing (somewhat) all the bookcases. They are at least very neat now. I also combined some boxes so I was able to get rid of a few.

Then, I cleaned the 2 bathrooms which I hate to admit were long overdue.

I realized the one thing that helped me get this done was listening to talk radio. My favorite station just came to this area a week ago and it made the time fly.

There was a thread about vases awhile back regarding finding a place to put things when you're organizing. I ended up using a corner in the garage as my "staging" place. So, the big job I have left to do is the garage (again!).

Then I still have to straighten up my room and the laundry room which shouldn't take too long.

I just love looking in that room I organized and admire how neat it is.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2005 at 1:37AM
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congratulations Marie, but I know what you mean (*groan*) about "the garage again." If there's one "room" which always, always takes the reorganization hit for us, it's the garage. We get everything sorted & straightened up & then begin using it for staging stuff again. We're about to haul out 9 boxes & 3 bags of stuff that came from our old kitchen. I can't wait for that room to be clear again. On the other hand, remember, it's "staged stuff", not "scattered stuff". So, be nice to yourself. You deserve a bubble bath.

Take care,

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 10:17PM
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I used to put the radio on in the morning,loud,to a pop-rock station. I would make myself brush my teeth for one song, make my bed before another song was over,etc. You can get plenty done in three minutes.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 8:34PM
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I work best if I can feel an immediate sense of accomplishment, so I make my to-do list with small items that are quick to check off.

For a simple example, instead of "Clean the laundry room", I'll make a list of specific things:

1. Carry up clean clothes
2. Clear off top of washer & dryer
3. Wipe off washer & dryer
4. Sweep floor
5. Empty trash
6. Check supplies

Each step takes just a few minutes, and I have that immediate "feel good" feeling of checking something off the to-do list and I don't feel like I have to get it done start-to-finish all at one time.

It works for me for bigger projects, too. I always keep a to-do list near the phone... hate to say it, but if you call me to talk, I'll be working on the to-do list while we chat! LOL

    Bookmark   September 24, 2005 at 8:48PM
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These are such great ideas, everyone! I love to pop into this forum when I need a pick-me-up.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2005 at 7:33PM
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